Most accountants spill the beans about their rates way too early in a conversation with a future client. So when should you talk rates? The best answer is: not until everything else has been agreed upon. However many times we answer the following:
“Tell them and get off the phone as fast as possible.”
“I don’t know.”
“What is your budget?”
When the conversation heads toward price, steer it back to outcomes, results and the value you will be bringing to the client. One way to do this is to make a list of items that you will be delivering to the client, such as:
- An accurate set of books
- A reconciled bank statement
- An ageing report where calls were made to vendors with balances over 60 days old
- Financial reports that include an income statement by location
- A training class where five new tips are covered and a needed custom field is added and populated
- Peace of mind that your books are caught up
- Savings of eight hours a week freed up for more important ventures
- Once the list is complete, ask your future client what the value of each item is.
- Make a spreadsheet (you’re good at that!) and total up the number.
From Price to Value
Are your rates lower than the value of the tasks that you will be doing? If so, then it’s time to present your rates.
If your rates are higher than the perceived value of what the client will be getting, then you have a problem. Either
- the client does not value your services (so they are not an ideal client for you),
- you are too high (for any number of reasons) or
- the list is incomplete.
There is no point in presenting rates until you two can get in alignment. And perhaps you need to walk away. The numbers will tell you what you need to do.
It’s really that simple. Try this approach the next time you get asked, “How much do you charge?”